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Friday, July 4

Wouldn't it be better if...

Way back in March I sent off 'an idea' to a project called 'Mind the gap - Re:Designing the public sector', which comes from thinkpublic and Ideal Government.

I hadn't actually heard back from them! but my alert picked up that they'd published it. Here it is:

Wouldn't it be better if...

Instead of being sent down 'channels', those channels found you — online.

What do I mean? Things like widgetising existing services, most of which are easily widgetisable.

So, to pick somewhere at random (cough! injoke), Netmums would actually have government widgets on it where you could sign up there (rather than following a link) and be informed by auto-email or txt when you could register your kid online for school.

Or another example might be something like bin collection times or bus routes or Google mapped services - offer them to other websites like your local newspapers or some of the newer, very local, sites or community group websites.

Some sites like Transport Direct already do offer a widget but that's about it.

Something simple like this gets around the issue of 'findability' for services. For most, unless you know the exact title, they aren't bang at the top of Google search, which is the starting point for most. And internal search for government sites is usually not brilliant (because it's hard to get right).

All along these existing 'journeys' you are losing people — so go to where they already are, the audiences for specific services, online. Plus offline marketing and banner advertising is expensive and hit and miss. Proper, broad terms, search marketing can be expensive, especially where there is competition. Plus you could imagine other websites all wanting to be able to do this ('win-win'). Plus you're not as reliant on whatever others choose to 'mash-up'.

These suggestions are along the lines of how online marketeers get more clicks and more eyes for their products: go where the audience is and not just hope they'll find you.

For the potential payback in take up, strikes me as an 'easy win' which wouldn't cost very much at all.


Paul Canning

NB: I have blogged a fair bit about these ideas.


There are a few more on their website, including Tom Steinberg about the unusability of HMRC's website.

For the week before the tax payment deadline the HMRC webpage should be replace by three HUGE links: "Pay your tax", "File your tax return", and "Find out other stuff about tax". When you click on "Pay your tax" it should take you directly to a page where you can enter your tax reference number, and your credit card details. Really not so hard when you come to look at it that way is it?
I Liked this one from Neil McGuire as well:
Wouldn't it be better if everyone had a PO number which moves with them when they move house avoiding misdirected mail and removing the need to change your address on everything every time you move etc.
And this one from Nick Leon (Richmond actually does something like this):
Wouldn't it be better if pubs, restaurants, coffee shops and fast food outlets were part of a scheme to help the city with the shortage of toilet facilities in London? What if everyone could literally cash in their pennies (which are largely unwanted) for credit on an Oyster card type system? Cash in your pennies to spend a penny as it were. Some of the money would go to a worthwhile charity some of it to cover costs for materials and cleaning. Any establishment taking part could have a sign on their window clearly stating they support the scheme and thereby supporting the citizens of their city.


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